Harps hold firm against Drums
Tuesday, 19 August 2014
Drumgath 0-12. Ballyholland 1-11.
BALLYHOLLAND Harps are in a commanding position heading into Monday's (August 25) final group clash against Clonduff, with two wins in as many games.
Steven Poacher's men got a scare but eventually shook off the challenge of last season's Intermediate Champions Drumgath.
Like the match that took place earlier in the evening, it was no classic as Ballyholland seemed to play within themselves and Drumgath didn't seem to realise they could win the game until it was too late. The result means Drumgath are out of the Senior Championship this year, but with the number of young players that showed promise on Thursday, they can have a bright future if they right system is still in place.
Packie Downey was Drumgath's main player and starting in the middle alongside player-manager Jack Lynch they cause Ballyholland problems but it was the Harps who executed the break-ball strategy better. There wasn't much to separate the sides as they traded scores. Drumgath's Paddy Lively and Ballyholland's Patrick Quinn opened the scoring accounts in the first half minutes.
The floodlights at Clonduff were poor making it difficult for players and the referee. And it was a strange decision to play the first game at the bottom pitch and then asking Drumgath and Ballyholland players and supporters to move up to the top pitch. Quinn (free) edged Ballyholland ahead but Downey struck a wonderful score from 40-metres, just inside his left sideline.
The next ten minutes were frustrating for both teams (and supporters) as between Ballyholland and Drumgath they proceeded to kick seven wides in a row. The game desperately needed someone to take hold of it and Downey stepped up to display leadership when he raced through Ballyholland's defence, taking plenty of hard hits before lofting his shot high and over.
But just as Drumgath were starting to impose themselves Ballyholland's Paul Murphy stepped up and engineered his way towards goal, where his scuffed effort went over the bar to bring the sides level with 22 minutes played.
Murphy inspired his side and he won the resultant kick-out, fed the pass to the nippy Patrick Quinn who ran towards the corner before attempting to squeeze a point over but the ball dropped short and Ballyholland's Ruairi White was quickest to react and punch into the net. Ballyholland's tails were up and they rattled over three points in a row with Quinn (free), Joseph Murphy and Damien McCrink finding the target. Drumgath replied when blood sub Ryan Hillen converted a free, as the half finished Drumgath 0-4, Ballyholland 1-06.
Substitutes Colm McComish and Ryan Hillen closed the gap and Conrad Hynes came close to bagging a goal only Ballyholland's Kevin Dunne cleared off the goal-line. And having rode a five minute storm Ballyholland's Tony Havern eased pressure with a well taken point. But still Drumgath came at Ballyholland with Downey catching a kick out and driving his shot between the posts. But much to their credit, each time questions were asked of Ballyholland's mettle they answered, whether it was the tenacious defending of Dunne, Anton Haughey, Niall McQuillan and Paddy McAnulty, the fine catches and runs from the industrious Paul Murphy or the cool heads in front of the posts such as Paddy McAteer and Patrick Quinn.
And it was Quinn's converted free that responded Downey's fine point.
But still Drumgath pushed forward and Mark Connolly and Colm McComish tagged on scores to close the gap to two points with 15 minutes remaining. Ronan Murtagh came off the bench and scored a much-needed point for Ballyholland, but it was a fleeting appearance as he was on the pitch for less than 20 minutes after receiving a black card. Hillen and Quinn traded converted frees but when McComish (free) and Downey tagged on points only the minimum separated the sides, with two minutes of normal time remaining. And the 'Gath had chances to level, but a lack of experience up front combined with solid Ballyholland defending meant that Harps held on. And Quinn's injury-time point ensured Ballyholland won to set up an interesting battle against Clonduff.
MAN OF MATCH: Packie Downey - The Drumgath powerhouse constantly carried the threat to Ballyholland and four points from play against a counter-attacking Ballyholland team is an excellent return
BALLYHOLLAND: Kieran Murphy, Kevin Dunne, Anton Haughey, Niall McQuillian, Damien McCrink, Damien Campbell, Paddy McAnulty, James Patterson, Paul Murphy, Paddy McAteer, Robbie White, Joseph Murphy, Patrick Quinn, Ruairi White and Tony Havern.
Subs used: Ronan Murtagh, Ruairi Campbell and James Kearns.
Scorers: P Quinn (0-6, 4 frees), Ruairi White (1-0), P Murphy, J Murphy, D McCrink, T Havern and R Murtagh (0-1 each).
DRUMGATH: Calvin Parsons, Niall Hillen, Mark Connolly, Ryan Trainor, Conrad Hynes, Paul Hillen, Liam Hynes, Jack Lynch, Packie Downey, Gareth Maginn, Chris McQuaid, Paddy Lively, Ciaran Maginn, Daryl O'Reilly and Niall Fitzpatrick. Subs used: Ryan Hillen, Colm McComish and Aaron Sloan.
SCORERS: P Downey (0-4), C McComish (0-4, 2 frees), R Hillen (0-2), P Lively and M Connolly (0-1 each).
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